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Vol. 5 No. 1 March 2006

This is only a test

There probably isn't a backup administrator out there who hasn't heard--or maybe even said--the old line about how backups always work, but restores might be a problem. If it didn't have such a resounding ring of truth to it, it'd be funny. Think about how often you actually test to see if backed up data can really be restored. Weekly? Once a month? Once in a while? Never? Today's backup apps are sophisticated and can provide reasonable reassurance that a backup was completed as planned, but they simply can't account for every variable. And they won't tell you for certain that your restores will actually work. The list of things that could go wrong with a backup is long: orphaned servers, open files, media flaws, and on and on. Even after what appears to be a successful backup, heat, moisture or just clumsy handling can damage tapes. And a lot of these backup snafus can go unnoticed--that is, until you need to get to that backed up data. Disk-based backup methods will improve recoverability odds, but they're far from perfect and...

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